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EU head: Special place in hell for some Brexiteers

This article is more than 12 months old

He slams anti-EU campaigners who have no exit plan for Britain

BRUSSELS: Britain's Brexiteers with no plan of how to deliver it deserve a "special place in hell", the European Council president Donald Tusk said, prompting fury among British anti-European Union campaigners, one of whom called him an "arrogant bully".

Speaking to reporters in Brussels on Wednesday, Mr Tusk said: "I've been wondering what that special place in hell looks like, for those who promoted Brexit, without even a sketch of a plan how to carry it out safely."

Mr Tusk, who was to host British Prime Minister Theresa May yesterday, was speaking after talks with Ireland's prime minister on how to salvage a Brexit deal before Britain drops out of the bloc in 50 days, risking the peace in Northern Ireland.

Saying Britain would leave as a "trusted friend" if it drops objections to giving Ireland a "backstop" guarantee on the border, Mr Tusk's blunt language hinted at the hostility London may face if fails to find a compromise with its European neighbours.

Irish premier Leo Varadkar was picked up by microphones laughingly telling Mr Tusk "I know you're right" but he would get "terrible trouble in the British press" for his jibe at Brexit.

As British headline writers lit up screens with Mr Tusk's words, Mr Nigel Farage, who long campaigned to leave the EU, hit back within minutes on Twitter: "After Brexit we will be free of unelected, arrogant bullies like you and run our own country. Sounds more like heaven to me."

The EU rejects complaints that leaders like Mr Tusk are unelected.

He was prime minister of Poland when he was chosen in 2014 by fellow elected leaders of EU member states, including Britain's then prime minister David Cameron, to chair their summits.His power is limited to trying to steer them toward a consensus.

Mrs May's office suggested his remark was unhelpful as she struggles to find any kind of consensus solution in London.

"It's a question for Donald Tusk as to whether he considers the use of that kind of language helpful," her spokesman said.

Brexit campaigner Peter Bone from Mrs May's Conservative party called it an "outrageous insult".

Mr Sammy Wilson from her Northern Irish Unionist allies described Mr Tusk as a "devilish euro maniac" trying to bind Britain to "the chains of EU bureaucracy".

Brexit opponents, however, rallied behind him.

The Europe spokesman for Scotland's ruling nationalist party said Mr Tusk "hit the nail on the head" in deriding the "charlatans and chancers" who campaigned to leave the EU without setting out plans. - REUTERS